Saturday, March 31, 2007
An interesting note about the Leafs-Pens season series is that 14 of the 18 goals that the Pens have scored have come on the powerplay. The Leafs' discipline (and the refs attention to Sidney's aerial hijinks) will decide the game. If they stay out of the box and kill what penalties they do get then they should be fine. If the penalties mount then so will the score. Also, the Leafs will be reunited with Gary Roberts who once led them past the senators singlehandedly.
Around the NHL
Atlanta beat Boston 3-2 so the Bruins are officially unable to catch the Leafs for whatever place they finish in. Sorry Sym. Tkachuk, Kovalchuk, and de Vries led the way (anyone else wish Hawerchuk was still in the league and on that line?) for the Thrashers who move closer to winning a great bet over at the Southeast Shootout.
Washington can make up for that 5-1 beating they laid on the Leafs by taking care of the Lightning. Sure it's on the road but it's still the Lightning and they have Ovechkin, Semin, and Kolzig. That's more than enough to win a game in that division. Wishful Prediction: 4-2 Capitals
Philadelphia has played the role of spoiler well this week with a 5-1 thrashing of the Hurricanes and another win over the Rangers would be much appreciated. Martin Biron has until the end of the season to instill hope in his new hometown fans and what better way than to beat the hated team from Gotham. Wishful Prediction: 3-1 Flyers.
After last night's performance in Ottawa (no evidence of it left at Habsblog damn commie censors) the Habs cannot be looking forward to playing an even better and more explosive team in Buffalo. I predict only bad things for the Habs as they either play Halak, whose confidence must be shaken, or Huet,who will just be returning from injury, or Aebischer, who is crap. Wishful Prediction: 7-1 Sabres.
As for those senators, they look to cement their hold on fourth and get their provincial rivals into the playoffs (a cup doesn't count without a series versus the Leafs!) by taking their seemingly unstoppable winning machine (6 regulation losses since Christmas? what was in their stockings?) to Long Island to heap some dirt on the Islanders' playoff hopes. No DiPietro and possibly no Smyth = no hope. 6-3 senators.
Considering the time of day I guess that this will act as the game thread. Sopcast is a good bet for anyone without access to either game whether through the tragedy of living in Ottawa or Hamilton (sorry Sherry, it smells funny). Good luck to both teams. Details on the road hockey elimination death match will be available shortly.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Obviously, everyone one here will be sending positive vibes to the senators (except Muppet who will be sending extra negative vibes to the Habs) in the hopes that they will crush the overrated, needlessly arrogant Habs fans. Check into the Habsblog for what I can only assume will be a night of hilarity. As a tip, I have found that if they start blocking your name/e-mail address you can make up a new one/fake one to continue harrassing them.
In Buffalo, the slugs will be repaying the Leafs for their comeback a week ago by destroying the Dipietro-less Islanders.
The tough decision comes down to the Tampa-Carolina game. Both teams are struggling with spotty performances and nightmare inducing goaltending at the wrong time of the year. The Leafs don't have any games left against either team and at 7-1 it is a huge shame. So in the interest of keeping the teams behind the Leafs behind the Leafs and knowing that they play Montreal and the Rangers this weekend, Go Bolts!
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Pittsburgh travels to Beantown to play a Bruins team that is torn between playing the spoiler or the patsy. A Penguins win puts them into second in the conference with 78 games played while Ottawa and New Jersey sit in 4th/5th. Both teams sport identical records but the next tiebreaker (points won in games between them) currently goes to the Devils as they lead the season series 2-1. This makes the April 3rd matchup between the two teams that much more important. Considering the huge lead that the sens have in goal differential a win would give them all of the tiebreakers with New Jersey and the critical seventh game if it's necessary.
Daily prizes too for entering.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
If you could play for any NHL team (other than your own), which would you choose?
- Toronto Maple Leafs (34) 14.4%
- New York Rangers (29) 12.3%
- Detroit Red Wings (19) 8%
- Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks (18) 7.6%
- Dallas Stars (15) 6.3%
- Colorado Avalanche and Montreal Canadiens (14) 5.9%
- Minnesota Wild and Tampa Bay Lightning (10) 4.2%
- Phoenix Coyotes (9) 3.8%
- Calgary Flames (8) 3.4%
- Anaheim Ducks and Florida Panthers (5) 2.1%
- Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins (4) 1.7%
- Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks (3) 1.2%
- Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres (2) 0.85%
- Carolina Hurricane and Edmonton Oilers (1) 0.42%
What is an appropriate penalty for fighting?
1) 5 minutes (273) 97%
Would you rather see a fourth-line roster spot go to:
1) An enforcer (177) 66%
These guys must really like the enforcers on their team to close ranks and protect their jobs like this. Will this take the wind out of the fighting is useless brigade?
Would you consider a shorter regular season knowing it would mean 10 to 15 per cent less revenue from gate receipts?
1) No (175) 63%
Looks like players AND owners are just as greedy. A shortened season would be better for fans but who cares about them.
Who is the best player in the NHL this season?
10) Erik Cole, Pavel Datsyuk, Rory Fitzpatrick, Eric Goddard, Josh Green, Jarome Iginla, Mike Modano, Ryan Miller, Brian Rolston and Henrik Zetterberg (1) 0.38%
How did Rory Fitzpatrick's mom get a vote?
Who is the most respected player in the NHL?
7) Teemu Selanne and Mats Sundin (2) 0.76%
Guess who was not on that list? Your Swedish Captain but he shows up on a later list ;)
Who is the most overrated player in the NHL?
10) Darcy Tucker (2) 1%
11) Daniel Alfredsson (1) 0.5%
Sure, the Leafs have FOUR guys in the top 10 (McCabe, Kubina, Gill (?!), and Tucker) but it is worth it to see YSC's name in there.
What’s the best thing about your job?
9) Women (5) 2%
10) Naps (3) 1.2%
I agree, naps are awesome but so are women. If you figure that Pronger is one of those five votes, who had the rest? Despite Spezza's vote, giggling was not listed.
What’s the worst thing about your job?
12) Backchecking (2) 0.81%
14) Cam Janssen (1) 0.4%
These answers are the easiest to identify: Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, and Tomas Kaberle.
Speaking of sputter's, a week ago the Thrashers looked safe atop the SE standings but a loss to the Panthers tonight would put them only 1 point ahead of the Rangers, 2 ahead of Tampa and 4 ahead of Carolina with one more game played. This playoff race does not need more participants and the Leafs need Eddie to save up his wins for the games against Carolina.
Speaking of Carolina, they are coming off a big loss to a certain team from a certain city whose name starts with a T ends with an O and in the middle is ORONT. They are facing the newly-minted # 1 goalie Martin Biron and the no-incentive Flyers. Now would be a great time for a favour from the City of Brotherly Love. Unless they want to save it for the last meeting against the Leafs.
And Hab bloggers are all so instore for a visit from that blogging bitch from Ottawa,THM.So wear gloves when replying to her, cause she will give you stinky fingers,and God knows what else.Considering their previous bitching you would think that they would not make bold proclamations about one small win. Logic is low on the totem pole in CEGEP I guess. Hopefully THM has recovered from the sniffles and can go over there and rile les fanatiques un peut. I suggest that Gee, DC, Sym, and Sherry join him. I can't wait.
What will allow an objective observer to conclude the trade was an Ottawa win? Heatley's playoff performance. In his first ever appearance in the NHL playoffs, he scored 12 points in 10 games, almost twice the number of playoff points per game tallied by Hossa in 51 appearances (34 points total). Given the fact that his performance from January on may well have saved the Sens season, a little more clutch action might be in store for his second trip to the post-season. As we patiently (hopelessly?) await Jason Spezza's transition into the next Steve Yzerman, let's not overlook Heatley's transition into the next Brett Hull.
For a good taste of what a normal thread goes through over there check out the game thread for last night. A bucket of prescription medicine could not keep those guys on an even keel or in touch with reality. This was the best comment from a Mr. CANADIENS-DAWG:
I just was looking at the comments on TSN.ca by the Laff fans about the Laff win last night. They predict a 6th place finnish and The Stanley Cup. Raycroft is the next Ken Dryden. The Laff Fans are pathetic. They win one game and the Cup is theirs…I guess I should add that they have the memory of a gold-fish. In December these Habs were the greatest team in the NHL. Now they are usually among the worst unless they win that night's game and then it's 1993 all over again! The bold part is the pinnacle of stupidity because over the past few threads Jaroslav Halak has been repeatedly compared to Dryden and Roy. I guess the red/blue/white-tinted lenses cause brain damage.
Here's the deal: ESPN's SportsNation asked over 80,000 fans who their favourite team was, and how that respective franchise paid them back for all their support. Four organizations were included in the ratings: The MLB, NFL, NBA and the NHL.But really, when you're drawing from 8 million or so people and sell out every night, who at MLSE cares?
Overall Rating: 34
Toronto Maple Leafs:
Overall Rating: 99
Title Track (won or imminent championships): 111 (a lot less parade planners than anticipated)
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
In the less important game, the sens are facing the Bruins who have learned a new trick: rolling over. The team from Kanata is coming off a 7-2 win over the Lightning so a 10 spot would not be beyond the sens.
Courtesy of The Score and With Leather. This is the kind of quality programming that makes The Score a favourite channel of mine. They consistently bring the sort of irreverent approach to sports that Sportsnet Relaxed Dress Code aspires to achieve.
All six teams vying for the final three spots are in action tonight (apparently, so is Ottawa) as the Leafs look to keep their five game home winning streak intact. They host the Hurricanes and have a 2-1-0 record against them this year although the road team has won all three games (reverse the curse time?). The Leafs will go with the same lineup as Saturday night which means that the Leafs have decided that they have milked $1.5M worth of production (20-22-42) out of Jeff O'Neill.
In gambling news, Hurricanes are for Drinking (hopefully that name seems prescient and not ironic later on tonight) has a look at the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Leafs are 40-1 (all odds are from Sportbook.com) while the sens sit at 10-1 to win the cup. Sure the sens are higher but that algorithm clearly does not account for something happening.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Maple Leafs - Tuesday Hurricanes, Thursday @ Thrashers, Saturday Penguins, Sunday @ Rangers
Hurricanes - Tuesday @ Maple Leafs, Wednesday @ Flyers, Friday Lightning, Sunday @ Panthers
Lightning - Tuesday Panthers, Friday @ Hurricanes, Saturday Capitals
Canadiens - Tuesday Rangers, Friday @ senators, Saturday Sabres
NY Rangers - Tuesday @ Canadiens, Friday @ Flyers, Sunday Maple Leafs
NY Islanders - Tuesday Devils, Friday @ Sabres, Saturday senators
Under a new agreement with TSN, which will be announced soon, the cable network will get rights to a limited number of [playoff] games featuring Canadian-based franchises. CBC does keep exclusive Canadian rights to the Stanley Cup Final and all Saturday night games.Fans and 'experts' that were hoping to see the TSN-CTV-Rogers consortium steal CBC's meal ticket will be greatly disappointed. Leafs Nation could care less because it means at least six more years of the Leafs nationwide (except Quebec) every Saturday at 7pm.
Starry Starry Hockey Nights - Hockey Dirt:
Sixty-three years ago, on March 24, 1944, Maurice "Rocket" Richard was named the First Star in a 5-1 Montreal win over Toronto in game 2 of the 1944 Stanley Cup semi-final series. Richard was also named the Second Star, and the Third Star.
Feeling....um...Pretty Darned...uh...Good About the Sens...I Guess - Steve Warne:
The Sens are always good. Always. But then something happens. Tugger can’t squeeze Derek Plante’s overtime slap shot. Sami Salo gives it away to Steve Thomas. Tie Domi is hit by Rico Persson. Jeff Friesen. Sundin in overtime. Patrick Lalime. Dominik Hasek’s adductor. The ’06 Game 1 Buffalo collapse. Jason Pominville.
The Worst Twelve Games In Oilers History - mc79hockey:
The Oilers 12 game losing streat is such a beast - very, very few teams endure a stretch that bad. I was digging through some stats to try and get some perspective on just how bad things have been in Edmonton since Kevin Lowe, Pat LaForge and the EIG declined the opportunity to go the extra mile for their fans.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
What a weekend.
The mere mention of the word "playoff", even if it's a playoff race, means Ottawa have disappeared from the news. They played yesterday, right?
Toronto however are stuck right in the thick of one of the tightest jostles perhaps ever seen in the NHL. OK, right in the "thick of it" might be gratuitous as they are in fact clinging to the back of the pack for dear life. 11th certainly doesn't sound as good as 9th, but 2 points out of 8th means there is still some hockey to play for God's favourite team. Hear hear.
Today the New Yorkers play each other. The best case scenario in my eyes is the Rangers taking it in regulation. That would leave the Isles tied in games played with a one point advantage.
My own team plays today at 2pm, game 1 of round 2. Better get hydrated in a hurry, the Dennison's were going down nice last night.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
From the chart, I suspect an ideal layout would have a balanced spectrum of scoring, a thick bar of 20+ and 30+ representation with the multiple goal scorers burrowing as deep into the 23 man (assumed here) roster as possible. Flecks of 40+ and 50+ scorers are nice, but you don't want to be too top heavy knowing that a big line may be shut down over a series (see Tampa Bay). Note that a large percentage of low goal scorers may also indicate a lack of offense from the defence (in New Jersey's case this also shows up in their 20th ranked power play). For BoO fans, Ottawa's D is also lacking goals this year (neither Redden or Meszaros has cracked the 10 goal mark this year) and the scarcity of goals at the bottom end reflects the presence of guys like Hennessy, McGrattan, Malec and Kaigorodov on the depth chart throughout the year. Leaf fans might want to put down the bottle of pills for the moment. Their scoring is one of the deepest of all the contenders as plenty of call-ups have filled in the 10 and 20 goal scorer's role. Too bad about that goaltending, though.
For reference, here's last years adjusted goal scoring depth for the Cup finalists:
Having 60% of your roster scoring 10 goals or more probably wouldn't be a bad bet.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Are the Leafs determined to stop Ottawa from getting first in the East that they'll throw a game that badly? How else to explain it?
Great comments in the post below. You can really feel the concern from the Sens fans for their provincial brethren.
How will the Leafs react and come out tonight?
Will Maurice turn to Aubin? I think Raycroft needed to stop the bleeding. He let in three straight shots representing the Sabres 3, 4, and 5th goals of the evening.
But then again, maybe I'm exaggerating the effect of this one game. AQG wrote that callers to AM640 weren't devastated. Just another loss - 40 years of practice makes their fans pretty good at adapting.
On the Leafs' side, Tomas Kaberle will make his return to the lineup tonight and it could not come at a better time. The Leafs will have the top powerplay unit of Wellwood, Tucker, Sundin, Kaberle, and McCabe together for the first time since December 16th. At that point the PP was clicking at a rate of 24%. Not bad. Since then it's puttered at around 14% and even worse since Kaberle went down at the beginning of the month.
With everyone winning last night the Leafs need these games. The bare minimum is two points and four would be unbelievable (most likely literally). The Leafs are 2-4 against the Sabres this year with three great performances against the slugs in their own building. The Sabres are in a similar position to the senators in last year's finale in that they are comfortably perched at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Leafs need to play with that same kind of desperation. Let's squash the slugs. Go Leafs Go!
Craigslist is a wonderful tool. Anything you can imagine can be found...anything. Here is one rather randy Canucks' fan desperate to see last night's game. I wonder what the 'personal services' are? Is she a doctor or accountant? It doesn't say.
The posting confirms what fans of other Canadian teams have always known: not only are Canuck fans bandwagoners but most of them sluts too. Thanks to Alanah (who would never do anything like that...for regular season tickets) at Canucks and Beyond for outing an entire fanbase.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Washington 3 - Carolina 4: Washington scored those three goals on 10 freaking shots. Did Hanlon issue a no-shooting decree? This is a team that features Alexander Ovechkin and Alex Semin. Those two combine for 10 shots on a freaking shift. They have 593 shots between them this year. That means that they average 8 shots a game by themselves.
New Jersey 1 - Tampa Bay 3: Brodeur allowed 2 goals on 7 shots in the third period. Are we supposed to believe that a player that is well on his way to becoming THE greatest goalie in NHL history could not shut down the Lightning? Add in that the Devils are in danger of losing the division to the Penguins and something stinks.
Pittsburgh 1 - NY Islanders 3: The Penguins are within spitting distance of a division title and yet their vaunted powerplay goes 0-6 against the 19th ranked penalty kill? Not only did Crosby get shut out but Malkin missed a penalty shot! Pittsburgh won 75% of the neutral zone faceoffs but only 37% in the offensive zone. Pretty clear that they were trying not to score tonight. The league is really stretching reality with this one.
Montreal 6 - Boston 3: Maybe Gary Bettman was not clear in his memo that the losses have to at least look believable to a casual observer because the sad-sack Bruins clearly missed that part. After two strong periods gave them a 3-2 lead heading into the third the Bruins realized that they had to lose. They showed their intelligence by picking the most understated way possible to cough up the game: FOUR GOALS ON THE ONLY FOUR SHOTS OF THE PERIOD! Tim Thomas' bank account probably shows a hefty deposit, oh, sometime around 9:20pm.
Sure, that last one has a Canadian team winning which might seem like a hole in my theory (note, how Calgary is also on the verge of an epic collapse while teams are suddenly losing to the Avalanche like they are actually a good team) but the truth is that the Habs are a terrible team and will choke their playoff spot away anyway. Their wins serve to unsettle the Leafs since they know that they cannot miss the playoffs again while les habitants qualify.
And what of Vancouver and Ottawa? Well they have the biggest bandwagon fans. They'll be done with the playoffs once their teams are eliminated in the first round. Sorry Vancouver, no shootouts in the second season. My bad Ottawa, Gary Roberts will be around to haunt you.
And that brings me to the ultimate goal of this Bettman-led conspiracy: To kill Canada's pastime. Sure, his previous moves have been far from subtle - overexpansion, two lockouts, a TV contract with Versus - but he is clearly onto the understated part of his Machiavellian scheme. By ensuring that the playoffs lack a Canadian element beyond the first round he is making sure that the second season will continue to get laughable ratings. One more element in his grand plan to help out his first love, the NBA, but tonight I am blowing the lid off of his scheme.
Washington @ Carolina - They beat Tampa and Toronto and feeding Carolina would be the polite thing to do. Go Capitals!
San Jose @ Atlanta - The Leafs need the Sharks to sweep their trip through the Southeast division so they can lose this one if it means that they beat the Hurricanes. But just to keep them in the winning mood: Go Sharks!
Montreal @ Boston - Their last meeting ended 1-0 for the wrong guys. Tonight it would help if they could score on a 21 year old rookie who is playing above his head. Go Bruins!
Pittsburgh @ NY Islanders - The Pens are just flapping their wings waiting for their first round elimination of the sens but winning this game could help them get home ice advantage for the first round. Go Happy Feet!
New Jersey @ Tampa Bay - The Leafs were good about not exacting a real pound of flesh from the Devils so now would be a good way to repay their debt to the Leafs. Go Devils!
Ottawa @ Florida - This game does not matter beyond the fact that I want the sens in the most fragile of mindsets going into the playoffs. Go Panthers and their billion dollar goalie!
Lo and behold, the major media conglomerate has the BoO on both team pages. No idea why they felt the need to add other substandard sites as this one is clearly all you need but I guess that they had a quota to fill. Sort of the same reason Ottawa got an NHL team so I guess it's appropriate.
It's only a matter of time until we move from the depths of the team pages (does anyone get that deep into the site?) to the front page. No word yet on whether we will need to clean up our language, but fuck it, we won't.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The Sabres and Leafs have a home and home on Friday and Saturday. The Sens are 5 points back of Buffalo and if Toronto won both in regulation and Ottawa won their games against Florida tomorrow and Tampa on Saturday we’d be within a point of first in the East.
Small print: Keep in mind that Buffalo has two games in hand and also has more wins than Ottawa.
The much anticipated appearance in Toronto by the Devils did not disappoint. The game was overall a pretty good one. Lots of good hits, solid goaltending, and good flow. New Leafs hero Wade Belak slaked the bloodlust of the ACC crowd with a first period decision over the scrub. To his credit, he could have hidden but he did not and he even waved the linesmen out to let the fight continue. The game also featured the first, and last, two times that Belak's name was chanted by the home faithful.
Sundin had another strong night as he set up both Leaf goals. Wellwood scored the first on a one-timer that probably fooled Brodeur with its fluttering and Antropov knocked in a rebound for his 6th goal in 8 games. Raycroft bested Brodeur with one more save as each faced 25 shots. That makes it four in a row at the ACC and the crowd is slowly rounding into playoff form as the Leafs continue their efforts to make The Hangar a fortress.
In tonight's action, there is only one game affecting the playoff race as the New York Rangers host the Philadelphia Flyers. Needless to say, they better keep an eye on Jagr in the last minute of the game unlike their in-state rivals.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Ottawa @ St. Louis - This one's easy. Verdict: Blues shock sens with their 110% effort.
Tampa Bay @ Islanders - Tortorella is losing the plot. No shootouts please although this could turn into the Battle of the Nobodies. Verdict: Lots of goals lead to another classic '25% rule'-like rant.
Boston @ Montreal - The Bs are coming off a slap on the wrist after their capitulation against the Rangers. It's the first of three games between the old rivals and a win for Boston would make for fun reading. Verdict: Bruins repay the Habs for their past two playoff meetings by making this the first of three straight wins over the Habs.
"I don't think the boys will be looking for him," said Kaberle. "They'll be playing their own game. We just have to get the two points."That sentiment has been echoed by the team and most fans in a Sun poll want nothing more than the critical two points. As McCabe has pointed out revenge is a dish best served cold and the scrub could conceivably be around next season as well.
Belak might drop the mitts early but the window is only about 1-2 minutes, the amount of time the scrub might spend on the ice and not picking splinters out of his rear, so it will probably amount to nothing. The scrub's obliviousness knows no bounds,
"I'm not looking to go head hunting or anything like that. I'm just want to go out there and play my game. I'm sure if I'm skating down the wing with the puck, he's going to come hit me too. That's obvious."What was obvious was that the league does not need to employ players that take up minutes that a beer leaguer could fill just as well without the accompanying embarrassing incidents. What was obvious was that, as Kaberle put it, the scrub has no respect for his fellow NHLers. Attitudes like that generally end up coming back to bite the player in the rear whether it's a high-profile teammate that gets him shipped out of town or, in the case of the scrub, whether it's a little more personal attention in future matchups.
Would any Leaf fan be upset at a clean hit injuring the scrub? Nary a tear would be shed and it would be the biggest irony if it was on a play when a Leaf 'was just finishing his check.' But the biggest vengeance would be a win and that is where the focus must lie.
Monday, March 19, 2007
19:26 of the 3rd NYR J. JAGR (25)
... that moves the Rangers to 3 pts up on the Leafs.
Funny. I think I want the Leafs to actually make the playoffs so we could get to play them but I get so much joy in seeing them out of the top eight spots.
And here's another body blow...
DiPietro, who was hurt in Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Canadiens, stopped pucks during practice and afterwards didn't rule out playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday
Not lookin' good for the Leafs.
These are the standings as of this morning in the race that no one wants to win. Call me crazy but a first round matchup with Buffalo, while daunting, is certainly no reason for all the teams from Tampa Bay to Montreal to try to tank games in order to avoid opening the playoffs in lovely upstate New York. Clearly there must be a lot of collective fear because all of those teams are doing their damndest to end up in 9th. From Toronto and Tampa getting waxed by Washingston to the Islanders giving up 8 goals to Florida the teams on the bubble have shown no desire to grab this playoff race by the horns. The Thrashers did, from a then precarious position, and now they are seemingly safely ensconsed at the top of the Southeast division.
The Leafs face the top two teams in the East three times this week so conventional wisdom holds that they will be looking at three losses. However, as I told DC when he asked me to find 11 wins for the Leafs a couple of weeks ago, the Leafs tend to wins game that they shouldn't (New Jersey and Ottawa) and lose ones that they shouldn't (Montreal and Washington). That is why I simultaneously love and loathe the Maple Leafs. So I would expect another 3 points out of the week and pray that the Leafs' running mates continue to stumble towards the finish line. Of course, conventional wisdom is called that because it generally turns out to be correct. It's a nice reminder that last year the Oilers won the race that no one wanted to win in the west and came within 60 minutes of the Stanley Cup. Once again, the weekly lineup follows:
Toronto - Tuesday Devils, Friday @ Buffaslugs, Saturday Buffaslugs
Tampa Bay - Tuesday Islanders, Thursday Devils, Saturday senators
Carolina - Thursday Capitals, Saturday Sharks
Montreal - Tuesday Bruins, Thursday @ Bruins, Saturday Capitals
NY Rangers - Monday Penguins, Wednesday Flyers, Saturday @ Bruins
NY Islanders - Tuesday @ Lightning, Thursday Penguins, Saturday @ Flyers
Sunday, March 18, 2007
I'm pretty sure I'm not alone with a banging headache or some form of post St. Paddy's day sufferings. For this Muppet, it's not nearly as bad as the hangover from a troubling Leaf weekend, where one point out of a possible four is still good enough to be right in the thick of it. As thankful as I am that none of the other teams around us can put together a streak, it is not all that impressive to be hanging onto 10th with 11 games to go. Opportunities are quickly passing by. Time is running out. Pass the Advil.
Tonight, Ottawa will face the Stanley Cup champions of the (maybe not so distant) future, Pittsburgh. A match-up some are calling a first round preview.
A glance at the scoreboard today seems Tampa has fallen to the powerful Capitals as well. A playoff spot isn't in the bag for Lightning either.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Surprisingly, we in Ottawa are going to have the Sens on Hockey Night in Canada.
Think Cherry will come onto Coach's Corner with a beer like he did a few years back on St. Paddy's? MacLean asked him about it and Don said it was a coffee. It's why we love ya, Don.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Here are two options for the frustrated fan that doesn't want to listen to the radio and use their imagination (how did people do it in the old days?):
LeafsTV Interactive - costs $4.19 and you can control your camera angles and the dashboard include a chatroom, a live blog, pictures, and a bunch of interesting features. This is what I am rocking tonight and so far it's great quality. The catch is that you have to be in the Leafs' region to be able to access it.
ChristTML - This site features SopCast and professes to show all of the Leafs games. I have never used the site but I have used SopCast to watch Liverpool games and it's usually pretty good. This can be accessed from any region in the world and it's free.
Andrew Raycroft will be looking to take one more step towards the Leafs' single-season record for goaltender wins (37). He currently stands at 32 wins with 4 coming via shootout so technically 28 but if the Leafs are going to make the playoffs he'll have to break it either way.
With the return of some of the players from the injury list Paul Maurice is no longer handcuffed by his lineup and he has the flexibility to juggle his team in order to produce the best results. The last two games have featured dominant performances and that should continue tonight. Update: Of course, after mentioning the team's new found flexibility they will have to use it as John Pohl and Wade Belak will be stepping in for Kyle Wellwood and Carlo Colaiacovo. Welly will be back on Saturday and Carlo is questionable.
Other big games tonight include:
Montreal @ Pittsburgh - Sid the Kid gets revenge on Aaron Downey for calling him a diver by pushing the Habs one step closer to total meltdown.
NYR @ Atlanta - The Thrashers are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Flyers. A win would hold off the Lightning and be great for the Leafs.
Buffalo @ TB - The Buffaslugs travel to the good Florida team's rink looking to keep the senators at bay.
DJ has a new predicted standings up and the Leafs are tied for 8th.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
However, it's almost game time and there are quite a few important matchups in the NHL tonight. Washington will look to continue in their spoiler role. While they haven't been very good at it so far (8 game losing streak) I'd rather they perfect it tonight against the Bruins instead of tomorrow night. Atlanta will look to increase their lead at the top of the Southeast division with a win over Philadelphia. The Buffaslugs travel to Florida for some FLA sn...sun and fun and two points against the Panthers. In another game featuring a Southeast division team the Conn Smythe-less Hurricanes host the New Jersey Devils (soon with Richard Matvichuk!) as Marty Brodeur looks to take one step closer to officially being the greatest goalie ever. And finally, in a game featuring the evil side of the BoO Ottawa hosts the Ricky D-less Islanders and can do the Leafers a big favour by delivering a metaphorical slash to the face (they were aiming for the chest! honest) in the form of a regulation time victory.
Oh, and there are some games out West but I could care less.
Predictions, raves about Redden's astute hockey sense, praise for Spezza's defensive prowess, or vitriol at my sarcasm in the yellow update bar-less (not bra-less fellas) comments.
Today in the Sun:
On Tuesday, however, he wasn't about to wait. The Senators coach had a wee bit of a butt-kicking to deliver, and defencemen Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros weren't going to sit around long before getting it.
Makes me like Murray a bit more.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
What I'd really like is some talented people to provide images for the front/back so we can provide some great BoO gear.
Here's the template required for the front and back images. My email is on the right sidebar.
The official Battle of Ontario store is here.
UPDATE: The man at Cafepress has shutdown our products. I guess I need to sort out some copyright concerns.
Here's a clip from a piece in today's Sun regarding Anton Volchenkov and his busted beak:Icetime last night:
It's believed Volchenkov was to have his nose straightened out yesterday to resolve the breathing issue and Muckler was optimistic Volchenkov would be able to play tomorrow night.
"I suspect so. They'll give him a (face) mask or something," said Muckler after Saturday's game. "(Losing Volchenkov), that really hurt us. He's our second-best guy and he gets a ton of ice time."
Chew on this:
2) If Phillips and Volchenkov are Nos. 1 and 2 respectively, what does that make Wade Redden? No. 3?
3) If Volchenkov is up for RFA this year (and he is), how fast do you think his agent clipped that quote out of today's paper? ....
PHILLIPS, CHRIS 27:07
VOLCHENKOV, ANTON 27:18
REDDEN, WADE 21:36
Erin promises to have more PPV reaction today as well.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Meanwhile, in the Centre Of The Universe, the Leafs host the Lightning which resulted in this story which made me simultaneously cry, laugh in pain, spit my milk at the screen, and slam my head against my desk. Of course, who knows how the trade would have worked out in the long-run. Well, it definitely would have been the best thing that Jonas Hoglund ever did for the Leafs. Player development is a game of maybes and could bes or Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda so maybe this trade would have been remembered as the time that the Leafs traded away three future superstars while gambling on the NHL's Michael Jordan. But as it stands, Vinny would look good in blue and white.
Anyway, back to this reality, while the sens are boosting their chances of home ice advantage the Leafs host the aforementioned Mr. Lecavalier and his friends. This season the Leafs have shown some ability to control the Three Amigos (or at least limit their damage) and hold a 3-0-0 record in the season series against the Bolts. They picked up a pair of 4-2 wins in the Sunshine State bookending a 5-4 victory at the ACC. Tonight they will be looking to complete the season sweep but will have to once again look out for Richards, St. Louis, and the almost-Leaf Lecavalier the latter two which are among the top three in scoring while Vinny leads the race for the Richard Trophy.
Senators/Rangers 7:00 PM ET -- Sens 2, NYR 0
Panthers/Hurricanes 7:00 PM ET -- FLA 4, CAR 3 (shootout - sorry Leaf fans)
Lightning/Maple Leafs 7:30 PM ET -- TB 6, Leafs 3
Islanders/Canadiens 7:30 PM ET -- NYI 3, MTL 4 (OT)
Sabres/Penguins 7:30 PM ET -- BUF 5, PIT 2
I guess I don't actually want the Leafs in the playoffs.
Anyone predicts all the games right will get a limited edition Battle of Ontario T-shirt signed by myself, Jay, PPP, and The Muppet. They say they go for six figures on ebay.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Toronto: Tues Lightning, Fri @ Capitals, Sat @ Canadiens
Atlanta: Mon Capitals, Thurs @ Flyers, Fri Rangers, Sun Sabres
Carolina: Tues Panthers, Thurs Devils, Sat @ Devils
Tampa Bay: Tues @ Maple Leafs, Fri Sabres, Sun @ Capitals
NY Rangers: Tues senators, Fri @ Thrashers, Sat Bruins
NY Islanders: Tues @ Canadiens, Thurs @ senators, Sat @ Panthers
Montreal: Tues Islanders, Fri @ Penguins, Sat Maple Leafs
Boston: Thurs Capitals, Sat @ Rangers
Florida: Tues @ Hurricanes, Thurs Sabres, Sat Islanders
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Do we want the Leafs in the post season or not? The Godfather wrote a year ago:
I'll just come right out and admit it: I'm cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs to make the playoffs.
Having Leaf Nation simply fade out of the picture in a relatively quiet and painless fashion will not do the Battle of Ontario justice. It would be more appropriate to see them teased into a sincere belief that yet another upset is possible, to gradually sell themselves on the possibility that this could be their year and to piece their shattered confidence back together in the remaining 13 games -- only to be abruptly hauled back down to the cold ice with a crunching thud. As the starry haze wears off and vision is restored, their first sight will be that of Gary Bettman making an important center ice presentation to Captain Daniel Alfredsson. Truly an experience that will scar several generations of Torontonians and something Sens fans ought to throw their support behind.
Really, fretting about a few losses lately is so insignificant when Pit comes in for Game 1 of Round 1. The most important thing will be the health of the players. We don't want any aductor muscles (Hasek), lingering wrist/arm ailments (Chara), or whatever else limiting this team. We are much better built to beat Buffalo than we were last spring. Our goalie is better now, our team speed is better I'd argue, and we've conquered the Pizza line or bust dilemma. Who else in the East are we worried about? A Pit team with a shallow D and big questions in net? A one line Tampa team that we can isolate and also without a solid netminder? Unless Brodeur singlehandledly wins 4 games, is anyone really worried about Jersey?
But back on the issue at hand.
What are the chances we would actually play Toronto in the playoffs if they make it? If they squeak in at 8 they would play Buffalo. We wouldn't even play them in the 2nd round unless the top three seeds all lost. If they are 7th they would play Jersey and then would play us if the 8th team won and the 3rd won. Very unlikely we'd meet unless it was the conference final.
Would you want that to be the final stepping stone to a final appearance? Or would you rather the Leaf distraction end quietly like last year and watch summer come early for those in Toronto?
And that set the stage for the Leaf fans' sweetheart, Darcy Tucker, to finish the game off on a nice one-two with Pavel Kubina to notch his second goal of the game. The ACC erupted as the Leafs' faithful celebrated a deserved victory and smug sens' fans sat shocked wondering how another lead slipped away in the third. If only they coulda scored on that empty net then they woulda won the game after blowing a lead that shoulda been safe.
Wellwood made a welcome return to the Leafs lineup and his skill showed as he set up a number of chances. Last night was the first time since December 19th that he and Tucker were both in the lineup. No surprise that one of them was the difference last night.
Elsewhere around the NHL it was a bit of a crazy night. Some guy named Koci for the Blackhawks delivered a vicious headshot and Donald Brashear drilled Brendan Witt with a gloved punch after he had scored a goal to bring the caps within 2 goals. The wheel of justice is going to get a workout.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Round 2: 6-0 Leafs in Ottawa
Round 3: 6-2 Sens in Toronto
Round 4: 7-2 Sens in Ottawa.
Round 5: 3-2 (OT) Sens in Toronto.
Round 6: 3-2 (Shootout) Leafs in Ottawa
Round 7: 5-1 Sens in Otttawa
Game time is 7pm at the ACC.
TV: Hockey Night in Canada
With the Sens win on Thursday they clinch the season series. The Leafs are down but are they out?? Maybe we'll consider this the pre-game post. I know it's a few hours early but hey, it's the last BoO regular season game.
From the outlandish score of 8-1 for the Sens, guessed by GeeIWonder, all the way to the very conservative 4-3 Sens, granted by Duff, it came down to one BoO commenter's perfect guess-timation.
PAV - You nailed it.
Jardine and DC both guessed 6-1, for the "close only counts in hand grenades" award.
Yet another 'policeman' committing a crime. Now Maggie The Macaque and Colin Campbell have to make a decision. Do they spin the wheel and hope that it lands on 5 games+ or do they send a message and end Simon's career. McSorley received a suspension (and legal prosecution) until February of the next season for his assault of Brashear which combined to effectively end his career. Dale Hunter's late hit on Pierre Turgeon in the '93 playoffs earned him a 20+ game suspension.
Hopefully, Campbell will grow a pair and lay down a similar punishment because 3 gamers are not sending the message. The Islanders have 15 games left before being eliminated in the playoffs by New Jersey so that is maximum 22 games if Campbell goes the Bertuzzi route. However, 40+ games would be more appropriate as it would carry over significantly into next season. Enough maybe to keep the UFA from being signed again and hopefully ending his career.
But who knows, the NHL made ESPN again so Bettman will be happy and maybe Simon dodges a bullet. At this point, it wouldn't surprise me to see a limp-wristed punishment doled out.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
The Leafs drop to 10th as the Canes pass them (more wins) and the Rangers tie them and have a game in hand after beating the Islanders. Happily, the Habs lost while simultaneously traumatizing their goaltender. Saturday night cannot come soon enough.
Comments, questions, ranting, and raving in the comments as always.
Round 2: 6-0 Leafs in Ottawa
Round 3: 6-2 Sens in Toronto
Round 4: 7-2 Sens in Ottawa.
Round 5: 3-2 (OT) Sens in Toronto.
Round 6: 3-2 (Shootout) Leafs in Ottawa
So, in this preliminary bout, the Sens lead on the card is 4 rounds to 2 with 2 rounds remaining.
Game time is 7:30.
TV: PPV in Ottawa, Sportsnet in the rest of Ontario I guess
This post will stay at the top until after the game is over.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
It's no surprise who tops each list: God's (and apparently Capitalism's) team. The Leafs bring in an average of $ 183USD for their tickets to top the individual list (by $63) and the price tags of $ 176USD for their games with the Canadiens and $ 154 for the Battle of Ontario gives them the top two spots on the second list.
One thing to note about the first list is that the top 5 teams are Canadian.
"But PPP, aren't there 6 Canadian teams?"
That is correct. There are six Canadian teams in the NHL. You would be right to assume that all 6 Canadian teams would be at the top of the list or at least in the top 10 what with each fanbase being so loyal and rabid, right? Well apparently the denizens of the city that fun forgot do not include that many senators fans since their ticket does not rank among the top 10 in the league. The other Canadian teams would like to take this time to pat them on their head and smile.
In fact, the only place where they rank on the list is when they ride their big brother's coattails. On behalf of Leafs Nation (and the fans of all of the other Canadian teams), I extend a sincere 'You are welcome' to the senators and their fans for doing our part to keep the team in Ottawa by buying tickets to the four BoOs (and other all-Canadian matchups) in nearby (read: far away) Kanata.
This and news Wellwood will be in the line-up Tuesday against Tampa, makes Leaf Nation, if I can be so bold to speak for the collective, a little bit happy.
I think I'll enjoy the day in 8th place and this positive news with a burger and a beer at the pub next to my office - tomorrow, the debauchery that is BoO game day posting is sure to be a good one.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Considering Peca is gone for at least 12-15 more games, Wellwood is 2-3 weeks away, Kaberle is a week away minimum, and Kubina and Newbury are both questionable for tonight, it will be easily over 300 man games by seasons end. Or, nearly four players missing for an entire season.
This struck me, in a salary cap environment with all its restrictions, as a pretty large stake driven through the heart of a team. Especially when you consider the missing are mainly top line players.
So I say this: Give this team a break.
Yep, goaltending could have been better, we lost some we shouldn't have, and the goals against are pitiful despite a $20M defence. But hell, we are only 2 points behind the defending Stanley Cup Champions, and if we can win 10 or 11 of the remaining games we may just be in business.
Tonight when I get home late to watch the game in all it's PVR glory, I will put on my jersey with pride and sip my beer and know that despite all the trials and tribulations, all the dissapointment, and all the sheer bad luck, it could be worse.
I could be living in Ottawa.
Enjoy the games.
Tonight the Leafs host the Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin as I look to extend my personal winning streak to two games. Tomas Kaberle will be out of the lineup (I forget why) which puts the onus on Carlo and White to pick up the slack. Pavel Kubina will make an early return from a broken finger to provide some relief as well. And Leaf fans, the next defensive saviour, the Pilar of Strength, Karel Pilar has signed with the Marlies as he looks to make a comeback from a tragic heart disease that derailed his development after a couple of strong seasons with the big club.
Meanwhile the senators host their likely first round matchup the Penguins and they will once again get to see the effect that Gary Roberts can have on an Ottawa opponent. Fresh off of a 3 point tour de force he will be looking to remind the senators brass just why the fans were clamouring to acquire his services. The price that was too high to pay? He'll be adding to his consecutive healthy scratches tally which now stands at every game since the deadline. Think that there might be a showdown in the capital this summer between coach and GM?.
Capitals 3 (All Ovechkin and all spectacular)
Pens 3 (SO)
Tonight's action see both Ontario teams playing important games but let's not kid ourselves. These games are merely a warmup for the main event this week which will see a home and home Battle of Ontario that will go a long way to deciding both team's futures. The senators, much like the Leafs of the late 90s and early 00s, need home ice advantage in case of a game 7 while the Leafs need points or they will miss the playoffs for a second straight year. That of course will trigger the apocalypse (or maybe it's winning the Cup but I know it involves blue and white angels saving the Earth). These are the matchups that spawned this site and we'll do our best to ramp up the rhetoric in the build up to both Thursdays game in Ottawa and Saturday's in Toronto. Lucky sens fans, your team's game will be national, in as much as Canada is a nation without Quebec.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Finishing your check" is so familiar a phrase it seems it must have been part of the original game. It wasn't. It means, as a checker, going after the puck carrier so that even if he makes a pass, you keep going and run into him, too late to stop the pass, but not too late to stop him from continuing up the ice with the play. This is allowed. Indeed, it's a strategy coaches insist upon. Yet if a player is hit before a pass gets to him, this is interference, and everyone agrees. Worse, "finishing your check" rewards the player who is too slow to reach the puck carrier in time, and penalizes the puck carrier who is quick enough to make the pass ahead of the checker. Worse, it puts in physical danger the puck carrier who has to deal with a checker coming at him at high speed, and the checker who has to deal with a puck carrier with his stick up to protect himself. Or worse, it encourages teammates of the puck carrier to take protection into their own hands and "obstruct." All this happened because coaches decided it was a good thing for players to go hard at a puck carrier, and referees got tired of reminding them it wasn't.
What would happen if "finishing your check" was understood as interference? If a checker faced the challenge of getting to the puck carrier in time, or risking a penalty? If a checker was made responsible for his speed, if he had to have it under control, able to go in fast enough to make the hit but slow enough to stop or veer off? To depend on the legality of personal choice, not on the illegality of "obstruction?"
We need to see hits from behind and hits to the head for what they really are. We need to see finishing a check for what it really is. These and other plays are not traditions of the game worthy of protection. They have brought danger to the game. They have hurt the game.
Link (can't read the entire column anymore)
It's the next step in the game. Remove obstruction and then remove post passing/shooting interference.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Was it the right move? Should we have kept him for the season and lose him this summer as surely there is no room in the payroll for him? Would he simply have been a distraction?
Preissing has been a decent player on the blueline but is a UFA come July 1. Hennessey looks like he could become an NHL player.
As an aside, it annoyed me on Friday when the commentators on the Atlanta broadcast showed Heatley and Hossa's stats and said how the trade has been good to both teams since their goals/points are so close. There's a difference they never mention. Heatley makes 1.5 million a year less. If we had of kept Hossa at 6 million then what would the roster have been affected?
As an additonal aside, Leafs Suck.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Justice for Kaberle. Three games or about 9 minutes of ice time. It definitely should have been more but at least the league acknowledged that it was a dirty hit so that should help them give out more and longer suspensions for these kinds of hits. Kaberle will be out 1-2 weeks. So the Leafs lose their most important defender in the most important time of the year. Awesome. Suspensions should be tied to how long the hurt player is out in my opinion. If a player making the league minimum knew that he might lose half his salary to a dirty play they might think twice. Colin Campbell though he handed out a suspension, seems to have missed the point:
Campbell indicated he felt the hit was late.The hit wasn't objectionable because of its lateness but because it was a deliberate attempt to violently strike a player's head. Good to see an important NHL executive have his finger on the pulse of his league and his fans. No wonder he fits in so well with Bettman.
As for the game, Aubin gets the start in front of the hometown crowd, McCabe is surely giddy to be back in front of the ACC faithful after his boneheaded play cost the Leafs the equalizer last night, and Belak will suit up on defence I guess since I haven't seen any callups from the Marlies. I guess that means that there won't be any funny business tonight right?
The hit was late (later than the Neil hit on Drury) and from the blindside. But that's not what gets the hackles up since, in my opinion based on the replays, Neil's hit was not an attempt at a headshot. This hit was different as you can see Janssen make a clear move to not only hit Kaberle's but to drive through his head. As a proxy, look at the Letowski hit on Armstrong earlier in the season. The frustration is only amplified by the realization that Colin Campbell's Wheel of Justice will most likely fall on a 0 game suspension. With that disgusting thought in mind, Al Capone sums up the message that should be sent to Belak and Tucker and whoever else is in position to get Janssen:
I want you to get this f-ck where he breathes! I want you to find this nancy-boy Cam Janssen, I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES!The Leafs did nothing at the moment of the hit and I will atribute that to the fact that the play was going up ice and that Ms. Janssen did not see the ice again. However, on March 20th I want to see vengeance. Whether it's Belak fighting him three times or the Leafs repeatedly running Elias, Gionta, Parise, or any other skill player on the Devils I want some price to be paid. If the league won't handle things then they will see some vigilante justice which I am sure will make Campbell happy. That must be why his suspensions are so haphazard and ineptly handed out. He wants to see it happen. I hope the Leafs give him his money's worth.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Bates Battaglia, Mats Sundin, Nik Antropov
Alexei Ponikarovsky, Yanic Perreault, Jeff O'Neill
Alex Steen, Matt Stajan, John Pohl
Boyd Devereaux, Travis Green, Chad Kilger
The fourth line is still up in the air but my guess is that Belak will be watching the game from the press box. This season the Leafs have lost two tight games to the Devils: 7-6 in a barnburner that saw them blow a three-goal lead in the third (who knew it would start a season-long trend) and 2-1 in a much more Devil-like performance that included a 16-save performance by Martin Brodeur.
Buoyed by the arrival of "Don't Panic it's" Yanic Perreault the Leafs will take their playoff destinies by the horns (or pitchfork) and beat the Devils on the strength of an improved effort and four solid lines.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
If you do go to the dance, I just hope for your sake you haven’t pinned your hopes on another last minute date with someone like Tyler Arnason or Oleg Saprykin, if that’s who you have your eye on I think we both know how this is going to end.He tosses out an olive branch,
I heard about what you did to Carolina this week and even though you’ll likely deny it, I’d like to think that part of that was about us. So, I just want to say thanks. Even if it wasn't about us, I really appreciate it.The letter sums up the fan relationship in the BoO pretty nicely.
Should make the three games left in the regular season a little more interesting.
3% chance that the BoO will resume in the post season.